Sunday, January 20, 2013


So you may have noticed the rice steamer in the last post.  Here it is again:

We're talking about that badboy on the left

It's probably appropriate that I write a little bit about rice, considering it's importance in Thailand, and especially in Isan, the state I'm in .

Rice is such a staple in Thailand that it's included in almost every meal- breakfast, lunch, and dinner alike.  In fact, if you want to ask someone if they want to eat, you might ask them if they want "with rice"- you know, because everything is with rice.

The Thais eat sticky rice. It's a little different from the rice that I'm used to.  For one, it's sticky.  You generally eat it with your hands- there will be one or two large rice baskets on the table with rice in it which everybody takes from while eating.  Sticky rice is best enjoyed rolled into little balls and eaten with other things- meats, vegetables, sauces, fruits, jams- whatever you like, really.

An aforementioned rice basket

Sticky rice can also be prepared in many different ways- it can be cooked with coconut milk and a little sugar to make it sweet, or it can be steamed to make it more savory.  In the first picture, you can see the rice steamer sitting on top of a pot of boiling water.  The bottom of the steamer is also made out of palm fronds, like the rest, but they are much more loosely woven so that water vapor can easily penetrate into the steamer.

Once the rice has been steamed, it should be cooled.  Remember those cooling trays we used for the peanuts?

Geoffrey, cooling the rice

Finally, once the rice is cooled, it can be stored in a rice basket.  The rice baskets are nice- they make carrying the rice easy, lock in moisture, and keep it warm for a surprisingly long time.  Day-old rice can be re-steamed.  On re-steaming it only becomes more sticky and more delicious!

See that sticky rice?  It's cooked with coconut milk and stored in
banana leaves, so it's a nice single-serving sweet treat.  It's great with mango!

There's a Thai expression which I like. It says something along the lines of: "If you don't close the lid on your rice basket, your wife will run away!"  As you can see, it's very important to enjoy and cherish something as delicious as sticky rice.

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